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Professional therapeutic massage therapy in Kansas City, MO by Aaron Harris, BCTMB

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Tech Neck and Massage

Man rubbing his neck in front of a computer
Rear view of an overworked man suffering from neck pain massaging with his hand sitting in front of laptop with graph and charts on monitor

What is "Tech Neck"?

“Tech Neck” or “Text Neck” is a change in your posture that results from extended time staring down at your phone.

In a typical case, the shoulders are elevated, the head is jutted forward, and the neck is extended and curved down.

The average American spends over 4 hours per day interacting with their phone or tablet. Most pay no attention to their posture while scrolling through Tik Tok or swiping right on Chad.

The Muscles Involved in Tech Neck

The average human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, despite what the kid in Jerry MacGuire says. 

This weight is optimally balanced on the spine when your neck is in a neutral position. When you stretch your neck forward and look down, gravity increases the weight load on your neck and shoulder muscles to nearly double.

The primary muscle that is affected by this position is the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) that connects your sternum to your clavicle and the back of your skull.

This is the muscle that you can easily see when you turn your head to the left or right.

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)
The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) by itself rotates the face to the opposite side and lifts it towards the ceiling. Paired with the opposite side the muscles flex the head and neck.

If only that were the only muscle that can develop pain and fatigue from unending hours on YouTube on a 7-inch screen! Tech neck also affects:

  • Cervical Flexors – small muscles responsible for keeping all your cervical vertebrae in line and flexible. Tension in these muscles often leads to headaches.
  • Erector Spinae (ES) – A group of three muscles that runs along the length of your spine, connecting the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae. These muscles help the spine lengthen and rotate and when they tire, fight to keep your head up.
  • Shoulder Blade Retractors – Several muscles that help hold the shoulder blades back and keep the chest open. When these muscles, such as the trapezius and rhomboids, weaken, the shoulders tend to hunch forward and round the back.
  • Anterior Neck Muscles – the scalenes and anterior cervical extensors can fatigue during long periods of neck extension.
  • Pectoralis Major and Minor – Rounded and hunched shoulders cause these muscles to shorten, closing the chest.

Be Careful, or You'll Get Stuck That Way

Your body likes its routines. Without intervention your muscles will become conditioned to maintain the posture that it holds for the longest period of time. 

What this means is that eventually your neck will only feel “comfortable” if you’ve got your chin jutted out and pointed down. It will feel “unnatural” to roll your shoulders back into their proper relaxed position.

This can ultimately result in a condition called “Upper Crossed Syndrome.”

Tech Neck: Massage Can Help

Deep tissue massage and myofascial release techniques can combat the effects of tech neck.

Isolated stretching exercises combined with regular massage therapy can help your body “reset” its normal, natural posture.

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